10-Point Plan: How to help the cat that shows up and never strays

Community cat in Tracy

From my Facebook Lost & Found group:

FOUND CAT- 2/3/18

Just checking to see if anyone wants to claim this cat yet?? Came into our yard 2/3/18 and has not/will not leave. My daughter likes him but my husband is extremely allergic and it is not an option to keep the cat or bring it into our home. I made the mistake of letting my daughter feed him and now he is constantly at our back door. We can’t walk outside without the cat trying to run into our house or jumping at us (not in a threatening way).

He is young, not neutered and very friendly (almost too friendly) making me believe he is someone’s pet. I am posting flyers around my neighborhood (Edgewood) but if no-one responds will need to have cat removed somehow.

I’ll start by mentioning that the post was removed once we (meaning me, mostly) posted several ideas for how she might help the cat without needing to have it removed. One of them: Stop feeding him, and he’ll go mooch off someone else. Seems like a beautiful cat to me, apparently people friendly, and may even have a home or more people who feed it. Just leave him be.
After all, she admitted that feeding him is why the cat has taken up residence at her backdoor. Don’t blame the poor feline for your (well-meaning) mistake! Start by removing the food bowl.
Cats are pretty capable of fending for themselves and should not be taken to the pound just because they exist. Many shelters have very high rates of cat euthanasia. That’s even worse when the cats being killed are friendly, adoptable, and may already have homes.

Here’s the 10-point plan

  1. Resolve not to take the cat to the shelter. It seems obvious (to me) that this is someone’s indoor cat, whether that someone is still around or not. Many cats are simply left behind when families move. This cat deserves the best life possible. Shelters are way too likely to kill sweet cats, just like this one.
  2. We need a flyers/posters/door-knocking search in the area around where the cat was found in case there is an owner or other people interested in the cat. An Australian study tells us that most cats are located within 1,500 feet from where they live. So think close — like a quarter-mile — when looking for an owner. Be sure to report the found cat to the shelter and take pictures of the cat to the shelter, in case the owner appears.
  3. If the cat is friendly, it is NOT a feral cat. In fact, we use the word “community cat” or sometimes “neighborhood cat” to describe both hard-core ferals and friendly cats that we find and cannot locate an owner for. In most climates, these cats live “in the community” and that is their home. They should not be taken to the shelter. They have a home already.
  4. Take the cat to a vet to be scanned for a microchip (free). She probably won’t be chipped, but we are trying to change that situation.
  5. Don’t feed a cat you don’t want to have stay around. Unless the cat is clearly missing meals, it was being fed someplace before you found it.
  6. If the cat can be handled, take it in for spay/neutering if your search for an owner doesn’t yield results. If your plan is to release the cat, have its ear tipped. This is the universal sign of a fixed feline. If you plan to keep the cat don’t ear tip but have the vet mark the female cat’s abdomen. Neutered male cats are obviously fixed (no more testicles). Ear-tipped cats still make great pets and show that someone cared enough to give them food, shelter, and love before they found a forever home.
  7. If you are taking the cat to a rescue or foster, ask if they’d like the cat spay/neutered before it arrives. Offer to pay for the procedure if you can afford to.
  8. If low-cost microchipping is available, have the cat chipped. Registered owner information can be changed later. Make yourself the first owner and update as necessary.
  9. Of course, if the pet is sick or injured, take it to a vet and follow your community protocol. In California, law enforcement is required to pick up injured or sick animals and take them for care. Call your shelter and then the local police non-emergency number.
  10. It would be better for someone to adopt this cat as an indoor member of the family. Barring that, the cat can be microchipped, vaccinated, and allowed to live outdoors. The ear tip will signal that someone cared enough to spay/neuter and the chip improves the likelihood the cat will be returned if it strays too far or is removed.

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